Online betting chief arrested in gambling case

23rd October 2007, Comments 0 comments

23 October 2007, THE HAGUE (AFP) - The head of international online betting firm Unibet has been arrested in the Netherlands on a French warrant, triggering concern Tuesday in Brussels about a possible breach of EU law.

23 October 2007

THE HAGUE (AFP) - The head of international online betting firm Unibet has been arrested in the Netherlands on a French warrant, triggering concern Tuesday in Brussels about a possible breach of EU law.

"Petter Nylander was detained by the Dutch military police at Schiphol airport after a request by the French authorities," spokesman Franklin Wattimena of the Amsterdam prosecutor's office told AFP.

The arrest late Monday relates to proceedings filed in 2006 by the French state-owned lottery companies Francaise des Jeux and horse betting monopoly PMU alleging that Unibet was in breach of French laws protecting the state-owned gambling monopolies.

Nylander is to be brought before a judge in a closed hearing Wednesday as the prosecutor's office seeks to extend his detention.

The French monopoly laws behind his arrest date from 1836 and 1891 and are being challenged by the European Commission, the EU's executive body, which was swift to question the legality of Nylander's detention.

"In our view, somebody might have been arrested who is innocent under (EU) law," said Oliver Drewes, a spokesman on EU internal market issues.

"We believe that the French sports betting legislation is not in line with (European) community law," Drewes told reporters in Brussels.

The Commission believed there could be "no basis for any arrest warrant of any sort anywhere" in this instance, he added.

The European Court of Justice has previously stated that it is against EU law to bring criminal proceedings against legitimate operators based in other EU member states.

Unibet said in a statement that it was "outraged" by France's "total disregard" of European Community law.

Unibet is registered in Malta, operated out of Britain and listed on the Stockholm stock exchange. It claims to have 1.8 million customers in 150 countries.

AFP

Subject: French news

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